Is Starch Dangerous? Why You Maybe Shouldn’t Worry About Grain Brain?
Starchy Foods Are Not Bad For You!
You may have heard that certain types of carbohydrates are harmful for your health. These include: white rice, potatoes, cornstarch, pasta, bread and many other starchy foods.
Some experts say these types of carbs cause diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Others claim they don’t affect our bodies at all.
What’s your opinion? Do you think these types of foods are good or bad for us?
The truth is, there isn’t much scientific evidence to support any of these claims. There is no proof that eating starchy foods causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease or cancer. However, there is some research that shows consuming high amounts of refined grains can lead to chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and colon cancer.
So how do we know if a food causes disease?
Well, researchers look for specific chemicals called carcinogens. These substances are known to cause cancer when eaten in large quantities.
For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that red meat increases risk of colorectal cancer by up to 70%. But scientists can only prove a correlation between two things without proving causation.
They cannot prove that eating red meat causes colorectal cancer because it doesn’t exist yet.
Carcinogens In Starch?
Most nutritionists agree that eating large amounts of refined grains isn’t good for your health. However, many people believe that whole grains are good for us because they contain several important minerals and vitamins.
But does this really make them safe?
Let’s look at the issue more closely. All carbohydrates are made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules. Chemically, there is a very small amount of difference between these molecules (even sugar and starch). So when we say that starches are safe to eat, we’re really trusting the food industry that they’ve been refined in such a way that makes them safe.
What if the refining process hasn’t eliminated all the carcinogens? What if there are still dangerous levels of them in common foods such as cornflour, rice, pasta and bread?
Most people would agree that the idea of eating bread that could cause cancer is pretty scary.
So why do we still believe these types of foods are safe?
Why Do We Still Eat Starch?
There is no direct proof that eating starches makes you fat or causes disease. It’s more of a hunch based on several ideas…
1. There are hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies that show a link between refined carbohydrates and obesity.
2. There are several isolated experiments on animals that showed a link between refined carbohydrates and disease.
3. Most of the diet plans that are shown to be effective in the long term (Atkins, Paleo, Ornish etc) all limit the consumption of refined carbohydrates.
It’s important to remember that just because something hasn’t been proven to be harmful doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe to eat. Just because science hasn’t found evidence linking a food to a disease, it doesn’t mean the food is good for you.
For example, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that eating carrots can cause obesity. But if you ate nothing but carrots every day for years, you’d probably become heavy regardless of how many calories you consumed. It’s also important to note that just because a certain diet works for one person, it doesn’t mean it’ll work for everyone.
So What Should I Do?
If you want to live a long, healthy life, there is only one diet that reliably shows good results. It’s called calorie restriction, and it involves eating less calories than your body burns. This isn’t a high-protein diet or a low-carbohydrate diet or a low-fat diet. It’s all of them fused together into one simple rule: eat less food than you burn.
Even though this diet works, it’s very difficult for most people to stick with it in the long term. After a few months of eating less food than usual, most people end up binging out of hunger.
This makes the dieter feel guilty about cheating and gaining weight. The guilt causes them to start binge eating more often, which leads to more weight gain and a completely destructive mindset.
There has to be a better way.
Fortunately, there is another diet that is just as effective as calorie restriction but doesn’t involve weighing food or counting calories. It’s the ketogenic diet, and it involves very low carbohydrate intake.
When we restrict carbohydrate intake, the body switches from burning carbs as fuel to burning fat. Since fat contains over twice as many calories per gram as carbs, the body has twice as much energy to use. This is why very low-carbohydrate diets like the ketogenic diet are so effective. They cause weight loss by shifting the body’s fuel source from carbohydrate to fat.
There is no reason why a ketogenic diet needs to be combined with calorie restriction. In fact, restricting your calories will simply cause your body to use the limited amount of fuel you give it more efficiently, and you might not lose any weight at all.
If you’re looking to lose weight, I would suggest eating as much as you like as long as the majority of your diet is made up of fat and protein. If you want to ensure that you’re never lacking in energy, you could try eating a bit more carbohydrates, although this isn’t necessary most of the time.
So there it is. There’s no magical way to achieve weight loss without feeling hungry all the time.
The ketogenic diet is your best option for losing weight, provided you’re willing to give up the foods you know you shouldn’t be eating anyway. Of course, if you really want to lose weight and you find it too difficult eating healthily all the time, you could always go ahead and have that bathroom remodeled…
With the rise of food awareness, people are becoming more worried about what they eat. Obesity is an epidemic and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
The way I see it, there are two ways people tend to go about this: they can either try to eat as healthy as possible, or ignore the problem altogether and continue living the way they always have. As you might expect, I recommend the former.
I believe that the key to losing weight is a nutritious diet with as few additives as possible. Processed food is neither nutritious nor healthy and most of it is loaded with harmful chemicals that your body doesn’t need.
The easiest way to start eating healthier is to eliminate fast food and junk food from your diet. This is a no-brainer.
At the same time, you might also want to eliminate dairies and any other foods that are high in fat. While it is true that your body needs a certain amount of fat to stay healthy, it doesn’t need to drink 2% milk by the gallon or eat cheese at every meal.
Eating foods high in fat causes your body to crave more and more and before you know it, you’re wolfing down a whole block of cheese in one sitting. While this may not seem like a big deal, it can cause long-term problems. Most notably, your body will start storing fat instead of burning it.
The next thing you need to do is increase the amount of fruits and vegetables in your diet. This is especially vital if you don’t eat many of them to begin with.
Of course, you’ll probably need to adjust to the taste. Many people complain that vegetables don’t taste good, but this is only because they’re used to eating vegetables that have been drowned in bucketloads of cheese and butter. It is completely possible to eat vegetables without any kind of dressing, and some, like cucumbers and tomatoes, actually taste a lot better without any extras. It just takes a bit of effort to learn how to prepare them properly. Fruits are easy enough to prepare that you won’t need to worry about it.
You might find that in the beginning, your stomach feels a bit weird when you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. This is because your body isn’t used to them, so it will take at least a week before you start feeling comfortable with the new diet.
Don’t give up after only one day and remember, fruits and vegetables are vital to your health. Your body should start feeling a lot better as long as you keep eating healthy.
The next thing you need to do is cut down on the amount of food you eat during each meal. You’d be surprised at how much we tend to over-eat even when we aren’t particularly hungry.
The first thing you should do is stop loading your plate. Unless you’re seven feet tall or more, there’s no reason for you to be eating enough chicken and steak to feed a small African village each day. Instead of filling up on those things, try eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. You’ll feel full a lot quicker and it’s a lot healthier for you.
Also, try to eat slower. There’s no reason for you to wolf down your food like you haven’t eaten in days.
Not only is this extremely rude to the people who cooked the food for you, but it can have long-term effects on your health. People tend to eat a lot more than they should when they’re in a hurry and this causes our bodies to store fat instead of burning it.
Finally, don’t drink your calories. This means no sodas, no fruit juice and no alcohol.
While fruit juice does have some vitamins, it’s also filled with sugars that are going to make it a lot harder for you to lose weight. The same thing applies to soda. Even diet soda is questionable, so drink a lot of water instead. Alcoholic beverages are just bad for the body in general, so you should avoid them altogether if you want to stay healthy.
With these few tips in mind, you should be well on your way to maintaining a proper weight and feeling great. Remember, a little exercise every day and a good, healthy diet are the keys to a long and healthy life.
Best of luck to you all.
Melinda White, Registered Dietician
Sources & references used in this article:
Is Starch Dangerous? Why You Maybe Shouldn’t Worry About Grain Brain by K Cann – breakingmuscle.com
Grain brain: The surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–your brain’s silent killers by D Perlmutter – 2018 – books.google.com
Wheat Belly (Revised and Expanded Edition): Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by W Davis – 2019 – books.google.com
Blood and guts in high school by K Acker – 1989 – books.google.com